LUMBERTON — The United Way of Robeson County has temporarily pulled its funding from the Southeastern Family Violence Center and placed the agency under probation after allegations that the center’s former director mishandled money, stole the identities of six employees and misrepresented herself to get the job.
The board of directors of the two nonprofits met last week to discuss the allegations and funding of the Violence Center, which was scheduled to receive a quarterly installment of $15,000 on Tuesday.
“United Way of Robeson County has voted to place your agency on probation and withhold your third quarter, and any future allocations, until the following concerns have been met,” read the letter from the United Way’s board to the center’s board that was dated Friday.
The letter asked for a copy of the board’s plan of action for hiring, board minutes during the probation period, its policies and procedures, and a list of its Personnel Committee.
Ken Windley, a member of the Southeastern Family Violence Center board, said that when Christine Fuller was hired as the center’s executive director in July, she supplied falsified transcripts and diplomas. He said that it is in the board’s policy to request official transcripts from a university as part of the application process, but that step was not taken in Fuller’s case.
Police have said they want to question Fuller as part of a criminal investigation, but have been unable to find her.
The United Way also requested an outside audit of the center to ensure that no other money had been misspent.
Windley said that a state agency has already been contacted about performing an audit this month.
The letter reads that “any future mismanagement issues will result in the total withdrawal of funds for the entire funding cycle.”
The center is budgeted to receive $60,000 from the United Way during the current budget cycle. The rest of its nearly $500,000 budget comes from various state agencies, according to Windley.
“Once everything in the letter has been satisfied and is presented to our board, the board will make a decision as to reinstate funding,” said Sandra Oliver, the executive director of the United Way of Robeson County. “But if everything is satisfied, I don’t foresee any problems.
“This is a real important agency for our county and we certainly want them the continue to offer their services,” she said.
Southeastern Family Violence Center, which was established in 1981, offers crisis intervention, shelter and advocacy services for adult and child victims of domestic violence. It operates a shelter in Robeson County and served about 2,000 people during 2010.
Windley said that the letter’s language implies that the center’s funding will be reinstated once the United Way’s concerns are addressed; however, he said that the board was not given a time line for how long the money would be withheld.
If the funding remains frozen for a long period, Windley said that it could force layoffs and cuts to services. Windley said he doesn’t expect either of those actions in the short term.
“Hopefully the withholding of the funds will be short-lived,” he said.
Windley said that the center’s board has begun its search for a interim director, who will hold the position until a permanent replacement is found.